Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Cry Me a River

Sympathy votes. How sentimental is Oscar feeling? This is a major question this year. And this question affects at least four races...

Can Morgan Freeman ride "due" sentiment all the way, overcoming the fact that everyone knows he could have given his charming performance in Million Dollar Baby in his sleep? Or will people throw a bone to Sideway's hilarious Church or bow down to the potency of Clive Owen's work (it's not impossible to win for vulgar hateful characters... it's just harder). I've met no one anywhere who doesn't feel that Owen gives less than a great performance --it has a unanimous factor that none of the other performers have when discussing their merits.

Will Hilary Swank ride the sentimentality of playing the sweet and likeable 'underdog' to her second win or will sentiment go the other way entirely. Will voters feel it is cruel to allow Swank to beat Annette Bening twice? Or will voters cast sentiment aside altogether and vote for someone like Imelda Staunton who has near universal raves (see, it's the same problem as Best Supporting Actor)

Do sympathy votes go to Million Dollar Baby now that it's feeling the backlash? Or are sympathy votes unwaveringly for Scorsese who looks like the most shunned world class director to have come out of Hollywood when it comes to Oscar.

If they're feeling sentimental, who does it benefit? The question is more difficult to answer than it first appears.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

While it is very clear you're not rooting for Hilary Swank this year (and your blatant disregard for her talent and the complexity of the role makes my heart hurt), I most definitely agree with all you had to say about the issue of best actress.

If Swank wins will it be because she plays a role that pulls at heart strings? Or if Bening wins will it be because the Academy sees her as overdue? If Staunton (or even say Winslet) won, who could argue that they're performances weren't incredible? (some may say Winslet's role wasn't bait-y enough, but I digress) I just feel awfully torn in this category because to be honest I'm sick of Annette Bening being considered Hollywood royalty- she's no Meryl Streep or Kate Hepburn. On the other hand Swank seems more than out of place on a list with Hepburn, Bergman, Fonda, Taylor, etc as a multiple Oscar winner for leading actress. Especially when you pointed out that Winslet, Glenn Close, and my personal love Julianne Moore have yet to walk away with their first prize. Just makes you wonder.

I can imagine my Oscar party with all the non-movie buffs watching Imelda Staunton win the best actress trophy. "What? Who's she? What movie is that? Is she American?"

The more and more I hear about the constant rematch between Bening and Swank, the more and more I hope that I hear that annoyingness at my party.

Love your site- damian

adam k. said...

I think Freeman will win on sentiment mostly because the non-sentiment votes will be split between Church and Owen. And because EVERYone loves him. Swank and Bening both have some form of sentiment, as do Clint and Marty, so who knows there. But Church and Freeman will definitely kill each other's chances, I think.

adam k. said...

I meant "Church and Owen" will kill each other's chances. Freeman will win.

adam k. said...

One note about the best actress race... think about it this way, if you will: MERYL STREEP has but a single best actress oscar. And this year, Hilary Swank could have two. Meryl is THE example of how they must be quite reluctant to give out two best actress wins. Will she ever win again? I suppose Hepburn didn't win her second, third or fourth until she was Meryl's age. So there's time. But who wants Swank to have more best actress oscars than Meryl Streep? Not me. Although I must say, she did deserve to beat Bening the first time, so a Swank win wouldn't be "another" injustice to Bening. Though it would sting a bit anyway, I guess. And Swank doesn't need two oscars. I personally hope Staunton wins.

Anonymous said...

I, for some reason, was always under the impression that Meryl Streep had 2 Best Actress oscars... and she doesn't. That's so strange. That kind of just makes me believe Swank wont win even more.

The other reason is that I think the FEMALES in the academy wont vote for her. I know it may sound weird, but, if Swank wins a second I think there would be some sort of resentment towards her. While she clearly deserved the first one, a second one I think wont sit that well.

Whereas Annette Bening...PLAYS HER AGE. She is an aging Hollywood goddess and she's playing an aging (Broadway? I haven't seen the movie yet - damn distributers) goddess. She has wrinkles, she has hissy fits, etc. That could very well get her over the line. And as the other person said, if they haven't given MERYL STREEP a second Oscar it boggles the mind that they'll give HILARY SWANK a second.

Having said that, I think a bunch will vote her Hilary, but not enough to win. I really am hoping for a Kate Winslet or Imelda Staunton victory. Nothing would top my night more! "And the Oscar goes to... Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind!!"

Although, if that did indeed happen the world would tilt on it's axis, causing major destruction around the world and then Earth would IMPLODE. So...


Anonymous said...

The Martin Scorsese thing pisses me off. Just because he made really good movies 20+ years ago (with the exception of Goodfellas) does not mean he deserves an Academy award for his blatant Academy-friendly movies that are out of his element. I blame the awkwardness of Gangs of New York mostly on him (the mere thought that he almost beat out Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, or Rob Marshall, and that he was nominated and Todd Haynes wasn't is revolting). If he stuck to making the gritty, character-studies that are more his style then I would support him, but if he keeps making movies like Gangs of New York (The Aviator was pretty good, but not great) then just give him an honorary Oscar to shut him up. Clint Eastwood, Mike Leigh, and Alexander Payne all deserve Best Director before Martin Scorsese.

Finally, can we count Charlie Kaufman in the "due" category. I mean, the Academy snubbed him for two far lesser scripts (American Beauty and The Pianist). Granted American Beauty was a juggernaut and Adaptation was a bit too academic for its own good (I have come to terms with the fact that I enjoyed that movie mainly because I could not believe anything so audaciously intellectual and anti-commercial, much more so than Being John Malkovich, was released by a major motion picture studio.) Until he jumps the shark like Martin Scorsese I don't want to live in a world where Charlie Kaufman doesn't have an Academy Award.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify: Meryl Streep does have two Oscars, but her first came in the Best Supporting Actress category (for 1979's "Kramer Vs. Kramer"- Streep won Best Actress in 1983 for "Sophie's Choice").
I think Bening should win on merit this year- although her character ran through an incredible range of emotions during "Being Julia," Bening didn't err once in her on-target work.
However, "Million Dollar Baby" seems to have timing on its side (I'm not sure if the controversy surrounding the film will hurt OR HELP its Oscar chances), and Swank could ride the wave of surging support for the film to another Oscar.
If Freeman wins, I don't it will be entirely based on sentiment. We're so used to Freeman giving excellent performances, it's easy to uphold a "ho-hum, he's great again" attitude regarding his fine work in "Baby." But try to think of another performer who could handle the role with the skill, warmth, and humor Freeman brings to the table every time he appears in (or narrates) a "Baby" scene. It's a short list.